Welcome to the Elimination Chamber, folks — where all the obvious people won and nothing changed!
Bit grouchy about that, to be honest. I’ll try to not allow it to affect the grade.
Reigns. Rinse. Repeat.
Well. The writing has been on the wall for over a year. Now it’s official.
John Cena has main evented five WrestleMania’s in his career. Stone Cold Steve Austin main evented three. The Rock main evented four.
Roman Reigns is about to be a 4-time WrestleMania main eventer — and four in a row at that.
If you know me, you know I have mixed feelings on Reigns, so I’m going to just delay all those mixed feelings until the end. Instead, let’s talk about the match itself.
It was good. Really, really good.
How could it not be when it includes Seth Rollins, John Cena, Finn Balor, and Reigns? In terms of wrestling ability, that’s the cream of the crop. The most talented of the talent on the Raw brand. The Miz, Balor, and Rollins opened the match as an encore of their triple threat match on Raw last year. Those three had some fantastic sequences, and the technical wrestling would continue as Cena and Reigns joined the match. It all built until You-Know-Who.
(Screw Voldemort. If anyone deserves the reverence of the You-Know-Who moniker, it’s Braun Strowman.)
Strowman was the story in this match – until the end, of course. He bludgeoned chests, slammed, bodies, and quickly eliminated the Miz.
The remaining competitors – Balor, Rollins, Reigns, and Cena – all ganged up on Strowman to hit a Shield Powerbomb, Attitude Adjustment, Curb Stomp, Spear, and Coup de Grace.
Let me repeat that: A FREAKING SHIELD POWERBOMB, ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT, CURB STOMP, SPEAR, AND A COUP DE GRACE. ALL THE FINISHERS. STILL WASN’T PINNED.
Bonkers. Strowman took like 58 finishers in this match. And he eliminated every. Single. Person.
Miz – Powerslammed. Cena? Powerslammed. Elias? Powerslammed.
The only man who got any sort of edge on Stroman was Balor. The two had a stare down with bodies littering the ring, and Balor was able to use his speed to keep Strowman at bay. He would hit a Coup de Grace to the back of Strowman’s head and STILL couldn’t get a pin fall.
Balor went on to get the better of Rollins and Reigns as well, with a standard Coup de Grace to Reigns.
But guess who showed up? Strowman. Powerslammed. (Reaaaaally want a singles match between those two in the near future.)
Rollins got the treatment as well, later. 5 men had a chance to sit on the steps like Stoop Kid from Hey Arnold, looking forlorn with the WrestleMania sign in the background…all thanks to Strowman.
So let’s stop right there. That’s a really cool booking by WWE. It teased a few new matchups and does a lot for Strowman moving forward.
…But you know who that leaves. And you know precisely what happened. I don’t even have to tell you.
The crowd stared down the inevitable and booed, but it wasn’t enough. Two Spears and Reigns is going on to face Brock Lesnar.
Reigns…words can’t do justice my mixed feelings on the man. There was a point where Strowman held Rollins in his grip and stared down Reigns; Reigns immediately went to help his friend. I love that portion of Reigns.
But I believe the only other man to main event 4 WrestleManias in a row is Hulk Hogan. And that was from a much different time period. People desire more variety than that nowadays.
I could say so much more on the subject, but it’s not worth it right now. Perhaps another day, perhaps another time. This match rocked, but it’s definitely bittersweet.
The Elimination Chamber: Where Good Gals are Dumb and Cowards Win
Sasha Banks is the dumbest wrestler. Like, mega dumb. SUPER dumb. The fact that Banks Mufasa’d Bayley was spectacular and awesome in every way…but still!
Do you remember her at the Royal Rumble when she started calling shots and getting arrogant? It directly cost her that match.
AND SHE DID IT AGAIN TONIGHT! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!
The early portion of the match was nothing to write home about, mainly because it featured a ton of Absolution. Those two did little of consequence in this match, which makes sense; they’re young and inexperienced. The match really picked up once Banks and Mickie James entered.
The early story of this match centered upon Bayley. Could she weather that damn numbers game and hold her own against Absolution? Her best pal Banks entered fourth in the match to save Bayley from being eliminated. They teamed up for a bit to hold off Absolution, allowing James to enter and help put away Absolution for good.
Bayley also got a quick pin fall on James, which left the final three – and the only three anyone could realistically see winning: Bayley, Banks, and Alexa Bliss. Bliss tried to climb the chamber for a while to avoid Banks and Bayley, but she was eventually caught by Banks on top of one of the Chamber pods.
Which led to the Mufasa spot. Bliss was fresh. WHY would you betray her there?!
Bliss slithered in to steal a pin fall on Bayley after the two friends had gotten caught up in their little rivalry. Banks was left in no condition to really resist Bliss, and was pinned shortly thereafter.
So, I think I’ve made my opinion of the story pretty clear: it was lacking. And if you’re not a fan of Bliss’ title reign, this match probably did little to excite you for the Road to WrestleMania™.
With that said, there was some fun stuff in this match. James, Banks, Bayley, and Bliss all impressed me with their work in the Chamber. It may have been their first go in there, but they pulled off some pretty great moments. James’ and Bliss’ leaps from the pods come to mind. Bliss yanking on Banks when she had her leg caught in the Chamber was delightfully brutal as well.
But if this was a Banks heel turn or is supposed to lead to a match between Banks and Bayley at WrestleMania, I think this match left a lot on the table.
After the match, people cheered Bliss’ fake babyface speech and cheered even louder when she finally turned it back heel. That got me thinking: you want to revolutionize something, WWE? Stop mentioning the “first ever” stuff and revolutionize how to give a heel speech that actually gets heat in 2018.
Ronda Signs a Contract
WWE was facing an uphill battle with Ronda Rousey.
Her presentation at the Royal Rumble had many people scratching their heads – blatantly angry, even. Las Vegas was split on her to begin the segment, and she seemed very shy and uncertain to start.
But after her fumbling babyface promo where she said how excited she was to be a WWE Superstar and how she wants to make Roddy Piper proud, they got it 100% correct.
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon smiled and simpered, making it clear that she’d get no preferential treatment while immediately giving her preferential treatment with a match at WrestleMania. Rousey was just about to sign her contract…but Raw GM Kurt Angle looked panicked.
“What’s wrong, Kurt?” Rousey asked. Angle promptly spilt the beans on the Authority, saying they’ve been wanting to manipulate her and get her under their control.
And suddenly the shy, stuttering Ronda faded as the UFC monster emerged. She’s always been an incredible mean mugger, and once the badass was revealed, the crowd was fully behind her. Triple H tried to shuffle Angle out of the arena as quickly as possible, but the damage was done. Rousey got up into Stephanie’s face, put Triple H through a table, and sent Stephanie running in terror
The story here was very good. Rousey’s UFC career ended on a down note, and the uncertainty and shyness makes sense. But the fact that WWE immediately gave her a motive and reason to feel confident in herself was excellent. It left the crowd fully behind her and got me excited for her story moving forward.
Of all the segments to be successful tonight, I’m still shocked that Rousey’s was the best one. Stephanie and Triple H are complete idiots to have Kurt Angle out there for the contract signing in retrospect. How they forgot that he hates them is hilarious.
But all in all, great segment.
All the Rest
The Bar def. Titus Worldwide - What struck me about the tag match was how the crowd was utterly dead for a mid-ring struggle as Apollo tried to reach his corner. And as the crowd was unresponsive to that standoff as well as the cheap shot that followed, Coachman was touting Sheamus’ “Celtic workouts” on social media.
This show sometimes, man. The loudest cheers were when Sheamus missed a step on the turnbuckle and had to wag his finger at the crowd.
It was interesting how The Bar wrestled…like the Revival, a bit. Lots of cutting the ring off, some savvy tags, outside interference. Might be a story there, especially after the Revival criticized Balor Club and the Miztourage on the pre-show.
NIA JAX ISN’T FINISHED WITH YOU! – The singles match between Asuka and Nia Jax had the crowd more riled up than the actual Elimination Chamber match. And I don’t blame the crowd – THIS WAS AWESOME!
Firstly, the story was better. Big vs. small, Unstoppable force vs. Immovable Object is always fun. Jax threatened so much violence on Asuka that she’d have to wear a mask permanently. She also stomped on an Asuka mask before the match. Great symbolism.
Beyond that, the match made them both look like a million bucks. Jax pulled off moves no other woman can do, Asuka was quick as a whip and pulled a surprise victory, and Jax speared her through a barricade in retaliation. This was fun!
“We Want Beach Balls” – Bray Wyatt and Woken Matt Hardy wrestled. The crowd chanted for beach balls.
I have so many mixed feelings about this show. On one hand, I loved the Asuka/Jax match, the men’s Elimination Chamber, and the Rousey segment. Those were all stellar.
On the other hand, the lower card of this show was utterly irrelevant. The women’s Chamber match lacked a truly compelling story. And that Reigns thing, man…
It all averages out.
Brutal show to grade. Anyone got some liquor they’d share? Tennessee refuses to sell it on Sundays. My state’s as dumb as Sasha Banks.
Let’s hear your grade in the comments!